One of Australia’s most loved gardening events, the Queensland Garden Expo, will celebrate its 35th anniversary this year when over 40,000 visitors converge on the Sunshine Coast between 12 and 14 July.
The Expo which now boasts 360-plus exhibitors and displays — including 55 nurseries — and over 120 lectures and demonstrations by Australia’s who’s who of gardening, started its life as a one-day event with a handful of nurseries, a plant clinic and a few talks in the Nambour Showgrounds in 1984.
Event Manager Marion Beazley said that very few events enjoyed such longevity and wanted to thank everyone who had attended the event over the past 35 years for their ongoing support.
“From humble beginnings, the multi-award winning Queensland Garden Expo has grown to now be Australia’s largest sub-tropical garden expo with the largest speaker program of any gardening event in the country,” Ms Beazley said.
“This milestone is significant, not only for the gardening industry but for the region as a whole given the Expo attracts visitors from across Australia, New Zealand and beyond. More than 65 per cent of the 40,000 who attend the Expo travel from outside the Sunshine Coast so it’s a big drawcard for the region.”
“You can’t underestimate how much growth there has been since the 1980’s in people’s love for gardening — the growth in our attendance is testament to this.
“This, coupled with speakers like Costa Georgiadis, Jerry Coleby-Williams and Sophie Thomson from Gardening Australia, Gardening Guru Phil Dudman and many more big names in gardening, has resulted in a very special event that has a massive following which includes everyone from green thumbs to absolute gardening novices and everyone in between.”
“We’ve had over 750,000 attendees from across Australia and New Zealand visit the event over the past 34 years and the event has delivered an estimated $173 million in direct economic benefit to the region over this time.”
Chairman of the Queensland Garden Expo board Peter Young was integral in starting the event and has attended and presented at every expo since it started in 1985.
“During the early 1980s, the Department of Primary Industries, Horticulture branch had held a few successful field days that were well attended, so the Queensland Nursery Industry Association Sunshine Coast Branch committee decided we should run a garden expo,” Mr Young said.
“The original event was called the Queensland Home and Garden Expo and had nurseries, plant clinics, demonstrations, agricultural machinery and vehicles. It was an entirely new concept at the time and took off straight away.
“From the very first day it was a roaring success and took everyone by surprise – the Apex food stand even ran out of food by 11am on the very first morning.
“As the event grew bigger over the years and gardening became more and more popular, it was necessary to narrow the focus. The event people know and love today follows the same formula as that very first expo and we have just expanded on it over the years.
“The Queensland Garden Expo’s success proves that it fills a need in the community by connecting people with nature – once you get involved in it, the passion never leaves you.
To mark the 35th anniversary of the Queensland Garden Expo, organisers are looking forward to a special celebration with longtime supporters of the event.
“In the early days, the Expo featured six to eight talks a day and we now have eight stages with over 120 talks and more than 35 presenters,” Ms Beazley said.
“We want to acknowledge the fantastic support we’ve had over the past three-and-a-half decades so we’re delighted to be hosting a garden high tea celebration as we count down to the opening of the Expo on 12 July.
“Most of the big names in gardening have attended the event over the years – Colin Campbell, Peter Cundall, Allan Searle, Bush Tucker Man, Dr Harry, Jamie Durie, Graham Ross, Scott Cam, Costa Georgiadis, Sophie Thomson, Jane Edmonson, Annette McFarlane, Phil Dudman – and so many of these come back year after year.”
“This is a chance for us to recognise and reminisce with people who have been integral to the event’s success – such as Peter Young, who was responsible for the original concept and is still involved as the Expo Chairman.
Ms Beazley said that there would be some crowd favourites returning to the 2019 Expo along with some new features particularly aimed at families.
“We have huge plans for this year’s event including workshops, landscape displays and of course tens of thousands of plants for sale and fun activities for the whole family,” Ms Beazley said.
“The Reflection Gardens have been incredibly popular in the past two years, where a series of inspirational small display gardens are created around a designated theme by a range of Expo exhibitors including nurseries, landscapers and artists.
“Those participating take their creations very seriously and we expect to see some amazing and creative spaces that are planned months in advance but come to life in the final days before the expo opens.
“Our highly regarded plant clinic where visitors can get all the answers to their gardening questions will return as well as the Cook’s Garden Stage and a fully planted sustainable kitchen garden.
“We will also have our new Sunday Sessions on the final day of the expo where visitors can take part in free hands-on workshops to create floral arrangements, succulent bowls and even fairy gardens.
“You don’t need to be a serious green thumb to enjoy the Queensland Garden Expo. We have so many different things to see and do that there is something for everybody.”
The 2019 Queensland Garden Expo will be held between 12 and 14 July at the Nambour Showgrounds, Coronation Avenue, Nambour. To find out more and purchase tickets online, please visit www.qldgardenexpo.com.au.